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Advice for DesignersTrue Colour Expert

Advice for Designers: Why your Project isn’t Published

By 04/29/2012August 7th, 201942 Comments

After I had finished decorating this living/dining room for my lovely clients Jim & Carol I sent the photos to some magazines. Only to receive zero response.

Photography by Jennifer Houghton

I tried to figure out what was wrong with it.

Then in February, at the Design Bloggers Conference in LA I got to chatting with a celebrity designer who gave me some good advice.

She told me that magazines are mostly interested in full house tours. The living room, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. When she told me that I thought, ‘Duh, I can’t believe that did not occur to me’.

Isn’t it funny how we immediately think, ‘There must be something wrong with me, my living room, the nose on my face : ) ‘.

At Blogfest in New York last May someone asked Margaret Russell, the editor of Architectural Digest, why they didn’t feature more kitchens. Her response was that many times a designer will decorate a house that does not include designing the kitchen.

Love this vase because you only need one bunch of tulips, I should have bought them all.

As I mentioned in my kitchen post the other day, I am the one to talk to regarding pulling together the colours and finishes in your kitchen but I am not a kitchen designer.

If I was a kitchen designer, I would never have created a system for understanding undertones because I would have been too busy learning everything there is to know about kitchen design.

It’s impossible to be an expert about everything related to design as it takes 10,000 hours to become one.

So to make a long story short, I’m publishing this project here on my blog.

Accent Wall:  Cloverdale CA 185 Verdigris /  SW 6212 / HC-143 Wythe Blue    

Main Wall Colour: Cloverdale CA136 Natural Muslin/ SW 7036 /  966 Natural Linen

See the drapes? Because there was so little space between the window and the bulkhead, I just hung them stationary on a track, which is actually very inexpensive to do because you don’t need a decorative rod.


My clients had been on vacation in Paris which is where the theme of the living room was created. Carol had bought some beautiful prints which we had framed by Kent Picture Framing.

Dining Table from IKEA: Dining Chairs from Pier One.

You can see by this image that the fireplace is not centered properly in the living room. This makes it very difficult to design the dining room because there is no room for even a small table with chairs all the way around.

To solve that problem I had these mirrors installed so that the reflection would give the illusion of dining chairs going all the way round the table. A great solution if you have a small space like that and need to work around it.

I also talked about this project at the beginning of February when I was featured on The Express with Shaw TV. 

What’s your favourite small space solution?

Related posts:

The Difference Between an Expert and a Master

Kimberley Seldon & What They Don’t Teach you in Design School

You Don’t Suck if you Don’t Book Every Client

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory. How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.


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  • lorraine says:

    Am so pleased you posted the room here, even if it did not get published so we have the opportunity to see it. It looks so fresh and inviting.

  • Marissa says:

    Lovely room. Swooning over the yellow chairs. Can you share the source?

  • Lynda says:

    Stunning space Maria and I enjoyed how you shared your design solutions for the space.

  • Nour says:

    I love your project, you did a wonderful job, everything is
    looks so pretty. And thank you for the advice , I did not know that about publishing pictures of a full house.

  • I love this room! What I love is how you brought colour in to make it fresh and new! That mirror trick is brilliant!

  • Stacy Naquin says:

    Beautiful space Maria! LOVE the mirrors to mimic dining chairs…Brilliant!!!!

  • june currie says:

    Source please of white Consule table? Thanks, Maria.
    Your blog makes my week, congrats on your growing success. June

  • StagerLinda says:

    Awesome use of a small space! Great color palette!
    Where did you buy the 3 mirrors? A very inspiring post.

  • It is lovely Maria!
    The mirrors add so much to the space. More light, drama and wow factor.
    Colours are beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

  • carol ann says:

    I am in love with that little vase too… this is an amazing room, loving the colours

  • Maria,
    This room looks smashing!!! Really fresh and lovely – you did such a great job, whether it’s in a magazine or not. It certainly looks like it could be/should be!

  • Mary says:

    Such a pretty outcome. Good Job, Maria!
    Did the homeowner use a bench on the other side of the table? Benches are good space savers because they can be tucked under the table.

  • Gorgeous work Maria, as always!

  • Marlo says:

    Full house tours…who knew? I didn’t. Thanks for letting us know because I’m sure there are a lot of designers out there wondering, as you did, if something is wrong with their space – what agony!

    It would be nice if magazines published a short article for designers with some guidelines on what they are looking for.

  • Claudia says:

    This room is gorgeous. Thanks for posting lots of photos from different angles so that I can get a feel of how it all ties together. I really like the color scheme.

    It seems to me I’m always reading the kind of magazines that just feature specific rooms, so I wasn’t aware of the whole house designer dilemma.

  • This room says Maria Killam all over it – it’s bright, happy and clean with a few personal touches (Paris) that make it the client’s. I love it.

    So far as publishing it is concerned – the editors missed out. But soon you’ll be able to feature your own house!!

  • It’s beautiful Maria and the mirror trick is brilliant!

    I attended a talk last year at IDS on “Getting Published” and a fellow blogger/decorator did an amazing recap:

    Thought it may be useful to your and your readers!

  • Cherie says:

    I, too, love the mirror trick! I do wonder, though, how the homeowner seats people all around the table. The bench idea above is good, or perhaps chairs are brought in from another room. Maria, do you know what the homeowner planned to do about that? It’s such a pretty room!

  • This room speaks to me on many levels. It’s feminine and masculine, it’s exciting and calming.
    Love the colors!
    My son and his new bride have those dining chairs;they fit into a small space but yet they are comfortable.
    Great job! Thanks again for the inner circle tips Maria.

  • Terri Davis says:

    Great space! Definitely publish worthy!

  • Love this space! I recognized Wythe Blue right away- such a perfect blue. Great job on the design- and the photographs are fantastic. 🙂

  • Gorgeous, well-balanced space, Maria! Interesting to hear that publications prefer whole-house submissions, too. xo

  • Vicky Rizzardo says:

    What a nice light, airy feeling to this room. It feels like a space I’d like to spend time in.

  • Tawna Allred says:

    Very interesting….thanks for sharing, and your room is lovely. It has a clean feel that is so nice. So much good work is never published (sigh) but that’s ok too. It’s life, right?

  • mairi says:

    One of my favourite colour combinations…so serene.
    Maria the second link provided on Kimberly Seldon says ‘page not found’. I tried her name in the search engine and same thing?… It looks like it would be interesting if you could please re-post the link. Thanks!

  • Whole house tours – so strange. I wonder why. I can’t say I ever noticed either.

    I love the fresh pretty colours you used in the living room and the pretty pictures hung on either side of the fireplace. I like how the mirrors look behind the dining table, but I wonder if I would like them in real life as it is always so awkward to eat looking at yourself in a mirror.

  • Susan says:

    Absolutely love everything about this room. I am particularly interested in the area rug. Can I get some additional information on this beautiful piece? Name, color detail, where to buy?
    Thank you for putting together such a beautiful room.

  • Jil Baum says:

    Beautiful! What’s the floor? I’m on my third round of wood floor samples and I can’t get back to your wood floor advice link! Help!

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    This is so beautiful, Maria! I am becoming so attracted to this blue. Question, in your study of color, have you come across any discussions on how/why people go through color preference changes throughout their lives? I have to say I admire your firm preferences (for yellow, white kitchen cabinets, etc). I have observed myself vascillating too much. Does your undertone knowledge and perhaps good self knowlege drive your color choices? Do the clients preferences weigh in as much as fixed surfaces and room orientation? Hope I’m not too late in this blog day to ask these questions! Thanks!
    o, Paula.

  • Yoo-hoo Maria! I predict the lovely room will be in print sooner if not later. Really pretty work and a stunning wall color!

  • Masha says:

    Mirrors on the unusable side of a dining table are a great decorative solution, but wouldn’t it be strange to sit facing your own reflection during an actual dinner? Or this is not meant to be a functioning dining table?

    • Maria Killam says:

      It was designed so that it looked like there was 6 chairs even though only 4 fit in the space. When a dinner party happens, 2 more chairs are brought into the dining room and the 2 yellow chairs are moved out of the way. I have a mirror opposite mine and it brings lots of light to the dark end of the room!

  • Elana says:

    Hi…love everything about this room. can you please tell me what paint colors you used. I see you listed them but I’m a bit confused. I have a Benjamin Moore near me and sherwin Williams . Please specify what colors you used and how many different colors
    Thanks in advance

  • Jessica says:

    Love the whole concept of the dining room, in fact I am going to hang mirrors in my useless wall did not know what to do in that wall space. Please can you help me with info where to buy theese perfect size mirrors. Thanks

  • Theresa says:

    Beautiful. I just keep thinking about how horrible it would be to eat dinner while staring at yourself in the mirror. Ha!

  • Wow! Beautiful! LOVE it!!!

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